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Fundraiser for French officer who killed teen raises over $1.5 million

A fundraiser for the family of the French officer who fatally shot a 17-year-old boy had raised more than $1.5 million early Tuesday, igniting fresh outrage in France after days of violent protests.

The GoFundMe campaign aimed to raise about $54,000 for the officer’s family but within four days had raised several times that amount, with donations pouring in from more than 46,000 people.

A similar fundraiser to help the mother of the victim — a teenager of North African descent, identified as Nahel M., who was killed during a traffic stop in a Parisian suburb last week — had collected just over $200,000 as of Monday, according to Le Monde.

The shooting led to a wave of violent protests across France, exposing deep divisions in the country as it grapples with the aftermath of a killing that has reignited a fraught debate about race, identity and police violence.

Protests have spread across France after a police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old boy of Arab descent in a Paris suburb. (Video: The Washington Post)

The GoFundMe campaign for the officer’s family was organized by Jean Messiha, who previously served as a spokesman for former far-right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour and expressed support for law enforcement and the officer, who is being investigated on a charge of intentional homicide.

How the killing of a teen fits into France’s history of police brutality

The fundraiser drew swift condemnation from several lawmakers and activists, who called for its immediate shutdown.

Parliamentarian Éric Bothorel, a member of French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party, described it as “indecent and scandalous,” while far-left lawmaker Mathilde Panot called for the GoFundMe page to be deleted. “Killing a young North African, in France in 2023, can earn you a lot of money,” she said on Twitter.

Olivier Faure of the Socialist Party also called on GoFundMe to shut down the page, saying it was facilitating a “shameful” action.

Sleeping Giants, a local activist group that fights online hate by pressuring companies to remove ads from conservative media outlets, questioned GoFundMe about whether the fundraiser violated its own terms.

Raising money for the legal defense of alleged “financial and violent crimes” is not allowed on GoFundMe, its terms state. On Twitter, Sleeping Giants asked the company how it would ensure that the money would not be used for this purpose.

The globally popular for-profit crowdfunding platform said the fund for the family of the French officer was not in violation of its policies.

“This fundraiser is within our terms of service as funds will be utilized to support the officer’s family,” a spokesperson for the company wrote in an email, adding that the money will be transferred directly to the family, which is listed as the beneficiary.

Grandmother of slain teen appeals for calm as protests roil France

Tens of thousands of police officers have been deployed in response to the violent riots that exploded after the police killing of the 17-year-old. Municipal town halls, schools and vehicles were targeted and set on fire, and protesters lobbed fireworks at police officers. Over the weekend, authorities accused rioters of ramming a vehicle into the home of the mayor of a Parisian suburb, while officials in Beijing said that a bus carrying Chinese tourists was attacked during protests, resulting in several injuries.

On Sunday, the grandmother of the slain teenager appealed for calm and an end to the rioting.

“My heart aches,” she was quoted as saying by Reuters, when asked about the fundraising campaign for the officer involved in the shooting.


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